a cheesy survival story

Recently, when making Jarlsberg-style cheese, I’ve been ending up with tiny, random eyes, or none at all — so last time I made it, I decided to skip the vac-packing. Maybe the tight bag was hindering proper eye development? (Never mind that all my earlier successful Jarlsbergs had been vac-packed. Stick with me here.) Since I was making my Full Moon Blue at the same time I was making the Jarlsberg, I popped the Jarlsberg in one of my plastic tubs and stuck it in the bottom of the cheezer, as far away from the Blue as possible. 

However — problem number one — it got contaminated anyway.

I let it go for a bit, and then after a few weeks I gave it a good scrubbing with a (clean) toothbrush, diluted apple cider vinegar, and salt. And then I placed the cheese on the dresser in the downstairs bedroom — on a cheese mat with a food tent over top — to air dry.

Everything was fine and dandy for a few weeks, until one day I noticed that the tent cover was askew. Weird, I thought as I straightened it. But the next day it was once again wonky. This time I looked more closely and (problem number two) — A MOUSE. 

Or signs of a mouse, rather. The little critter had chewed a hole through the netting, chowed down on the cheese, and left turds on the dresser. I was indignant.

(And also a little bit delighted because: mice really do like cheese! How cute!)

I trimmed out all the cheese-munched parts and, once again, scrubbed the whole thing with vinegar and salt, and then I tasted it and — problem number three — the rind tasted like a scented pineapple candle! I’d had a pineapple scented candle sitting atop the dresser beside the cheese, and the scent had leached into the cheese. The inside of the cheese, however, tasted absolutely magnificent — nutty and sweet, mildly Swissy, and just generally more complex than most of my cheeses — so I cut the rind off the entire cheese, vac-packed the wedges, and popped them into the cheese fridge. 

And there you have it: the story of a cheese that battled mold, mice, and scented candles and emerged victorious.

Cheese: it’s tougher than it looks. Be like cheese.

This same time, years previous: 2021 garden stats and notes, the quotidian (12.7.20), “take out the trash”, when the dress-up ballgown finally fits, welcoming the stranger, the quotidian (12.7.15), the quotidian (12.8.14), all sorts of bolstered.



    What a well-told story, complete with a moral. The antics of the mouse reminded me of something similar that happened to me this summer. My book group was meeting on our screened-in porch and I had set out some homemade mango muffins. Then I went inside to get the lemonade and the cucumber-infused water, When I came back out, there was a squirrel INSIDE the porch madly running around. (He had gnawed a hole in the screen right by the muffin table and had taken little bites of muffin.) Who knew rodents like mango so much? I solved the problem by propping open the door to the backyard and leaving a few mango crumbs on the steps. Within an hour later he was gone. After the guests arrived, I brought out fresh muffins and the drinks and we carried on normally.

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